Count us among Missourians who are delighted the state's official manual, the "Blue Book," is returning to print.
Through a partnership with the Missouri Press Association (MPA), a printed version of the 2013-14 manual will be produced. The announcement was made Tuesday by Secretary of State Jason Kander.
As a result of a legislative effort to save the state money, and fueled by an argument that everybody has Internet access, the manual has been available only online since 2011.
The Blue Book is the "go-to" manual for information pertaining to state government. It outlines the procedures and personnel in: the executive, legislative and judicial branches; state agencies; and boards and commissions. It also includes information about Missouri history, elections, organizations and more.
The manual is a much-used resource for journalists, but we believe it also is useful for anyone - particularly capital city residents - interested in state government.
Our collection of printed manuals, with some missing volumes, dates to 1909.
The manual earned its nickname because its cover traditionally has been blue. The most long-standing exception occurred during most of former Secretary of State James Kirkpatrick's tenure. Kirkpatrick, who served from 1965-85, saluted his Irish heritage by publishing the book in green in the 1969-70, 1973-74 and 1977-84 editions. He deviated on two occasions, publishing the 1971-72 edition in black and gold to honor the University of Missouri and the 1975-76 manual in red, white and blue to commemorate the nation's bicentennial.
The only other deviation from the traditional blue occurred in the 1993-94 edition when Secretary of State Judi Moriarty selected a mauve color.
MPA Executive Director Doug Crews acknowledged the practical and historical value of a printed state manual.
"We look forward to putting this comprehensive resource back into print," he said. "Interacting with elected officials and government agencies is vastly easier with a Blue Book at your fingertips."
He also referenced the volume's role documenting the state's history for future generations when he said: "One hundred years from now, a Blue Book on the shelf will still be easily retrievable and readable."
We believe the abiding interest in history among Missouri and Jefferson City residents extends to restoration of a printed version of the Official State Manual.
And we look forward to adding it to our collection.